June 5, 2012 / 10:54 PM / 6 years ago

Spain to ask banks to set aside more capital - paper

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s government is working on a new banking reform, the third this year, to ensure lenders have sufficient capital to deal with losses on mortgages as well as on loans to businesses and consumer credit, a business newspaper said on Wednesday.

Cinco Dias said the reform was required by European Union authorities as part of a wider negotiation to recapitalise troubled Spanish lenders with European money.

The new rules would require banks to set aside provisions for losses of 3 percent on their mortgages, losses of 12 percent on business loans portfolios and 20 percent on consumer credit.

The government has already passed two decrees this year forcing banks to recognise more than 80 billion euros ($100 billion)in losses on repossessed real estate assets, on loans to property developers that went bad when the housing market crashed in 2008 as well as on sound assets.

With unemployment high at more than 24 percent, and the economy in its second recession in quick succession, there are concerns that the rate of non-performing loans could rise.

A spokesman for Spain’s Economy Ministry, reached by Reuters, declined to comment on the report.

If confirmed, the reform would be in line with prudent recapitalisation plans at nationalised lender Bankia as well as with recent recommendations from the European Commission in its annual assessment of the Spanish economy.

“The weakening of macroeconomic prospects may require further strengthening of the capital buffers of banks, especially of weaker institutions,” the Commission wrote in the report published on May 30.

“The reform measures adopted in February and May 2012 targeted the legacy stock of real estate assets, but the vulnerabilities related to other exposures such as loans to SMEs and residential mortgages have not been addressed.”

On Tuesday an EU official told Reuters that Germany had told Spain it could qualify for EU help for its banks on condition of revealing any possible losses on any asset.

“Germany has made it clear that if it paid for Spanish banks it would be only once and would not want to come back to it at a later stage,” the source said.

Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Michael Roddy

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